Robert Verreault

Rave : A Tribe’s Genesis


We first acknowledge the existence of two types of discourse regarding the development of the rave phenomenon. The first of these aims at satisfying the requisites and methods of the historical tradition, appealing first to the social and economic context of the early eighties to explain the becoming of a new type of music on the American club scene, and then to that of late eighties’ British youth as it was after a decade of Thatcher rule, in order to describe the progressive and impressive rise of a new sub-culture composed of a matrix of codes, styles, values and ideals. The second type of discourse can be defined as being micromythological, operating on the more symbolic plane. This last discourse sees rave culture as begotten by a transgressive and festive tradition linking Woodstock to Ibiza or Goa, and thus portraying Timothy Leary and his dearly beloved LSD as ecstasy’s forefathers. These two discourses reveal themselves to be in fact complementary. Not only do they enable us to better understand the “ rave ideal ”, but they also help shed some light as to the mythical constructs’ contribution in the elaboration and maintenance of a collective sense of belonging and identity.